Monday, December 26, 2011

Wizard!

The editors here at Standardkink are always excited to welcome work and input from the wider world and as such, we have a belated Christmas present for you! Below our friend and occasional contributor King Heifer would like to blow the doors off of your mind with his very thoughtful over-analysis of the Lord of The Rings movies.

Enjoy!





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Why The European Debt Crisis Would Have Horrified Frodo Baggins.

Why The European Debt Crisis Would Have Horrified Frodo Baggins

There’s a grand tradition among American men between the ages of about 15 and 45 of overthinking Star Wars. Wouldn’t light saber wounds cauterize themselves? Why was Obi-Wan Kenobi a pathological liar? Wouldn’t the Empire have named the Death Star something positive, like the Order Orb? Why couldn’t the forest moon of Endor been populated by wookies instead of ewoks? Were the surviving Jedi really stupid enough to try to hide Luke from Darth Vader by stowing him with Darth Vader’s brother on Darth Vader’s home planet? Why was Vader so stupid as to not find Luke there? The pinnacle of this kind of thought is probably the discussion in the movie Clerks about whether the independent contractors who were probably on the second Death Star got a raw deal.

There are probably people who do this with the Lord of the Rings, both books and movies, but you don’t hear as much about them. Well, after watching the extended versions of the movies and discovering – to my shock – that they do actually add something to the versions that were in theaters – let’s watch more four-hour movies! – I feel myself slipping into some serious overthinking of at least the movies. Having never read the books, but also having never heard of Rings fans roaming the streets like rampaging Uruk-Hai over the movies’ misrepresentation of the books, I’m going to trust that the movies accurately reflect the books. Accordingly, I’ll share the three things that have occurred to me as I have put too much thought into the Rings saga.

First, if Gandalf could summon eagles whenever he felt like it, why didn’t he just do that in the first place? He summons an eagle to bail him out when Saruman has him confined to the top of Isengard. He summons eagles to fight off the Naszgul during the battle at the Black Gate. He summons eagles to pluck Frodo and Sam off the slopes of Mount Doom at the end (although they clearly would have been fried by the volcanic gasses emanating from the ocean of lava that surrounded them). Why didn’t he just summon some eagles to fly Frodo directly to Mount Doom at the beginning, or at least after the defeat of Saruman, and save everyone the trouble? (I am assuming that, before Saruman’s defeat, he would have had the power to summon flying creatures to intercept the eagles chauffering Frodo to Mount Doom.) It never looked like the orcs had much airpower to defend against eagles.

Second, Theoden, King of Rohan, is the worst military strategist of all time. We’ll let him slide on the point that, in the Two Towers, he banished all of his horsemen – Rohan’s greatest strategic asset – because he was under the influence of Saruman at the time. (Tolkien’s editor should have asked him the following questions: “Seriously, there’s Saruman and Sauron? And they’re working together? Are you trying to confuse absolutely everyone?”) Once Theoden cleared his head, though, couldn’t he have gone and found the horsemen? He said they would be leagues away by then, but how would he have known? Judging by what the movies showed, his horsemen routinely destroyed the orcs and Uruk-Hai and it took a long damn time for everyone in Rohan to walk to Helm’s Deep. Wouldn’t spending the time to go find the horsemen have been a better option than dragging the whole population into a box canyon? Saruman was manufacturing Uruh-Kai out of mud, so there was no way that Rohan was going to outlast them at Helm’s Deep, even before Saruman invented explosives and suicide bombers to detonate the wall.

Theoden’s bizarre maneuver at Helm’s Deep, however, pales in comparison to his unfathomable tactics at the Battle of Minas Tirith. Recall that Rohan’s horsemen overwhelmed the stationary orcs with a charge dependent on their speed and momentum. As soon as that part of the battle was over, the elephants associated with the nameless men with headdresses appear. So what does Theoden – commander of the fastest, most mobile military unit in all of Middle Earth – do? He orders a frontal assault on the elephants, having his men charge directly at the elephants from the only angle at which they can defend themselves. Wouldn’t Rohan’s horsemen have been 1000% more effective if they had flanked the elephants, attacking them from the sides where they apparently had no defenses other than archers would have been as likely to shoot the other elephants as the rapidly moving horses? Did Theoden learn nothing from the Revolutionary War and the Battle of Hoth? When you’re in the role of the Rebel Alliance, you implement guerrilla warfare, not frontal assaults. Theoden seemed like kind of a cool guy, but Rohan is probably far better off with Aowen running the show.

My third, and much more egregious, example of overthinking Lord of the Rings is my conclusion that the whole trilogy is an argument in favor of a European Union and, by implication, the euro. Tolkien apparently denied that the books were an allegory for World War II, but the parallels are just too strong to ignore, particularly given that he wrote them over the ten years following WWII before publishing the books in 1954 and 1955 when the formation of a European community was a live issue. The parallels leap out. It isn’t very hard to see Sauron as Hitler or Mordor as Nazi Germany, but the whole exercise of manufacturing Uruh-Kai as a super-army also sounds a lot like the Nazi’s experiments with eugenics. The elves are pretty clearly the Americans, with the elves having fought with men in a previous war against the same enemy, deciding – after some initial reluctance – to ally with men again in the current war and then “going into the West” back across the ocean at the end of the story.

The analogy to European history also explains what was, to me at least, one of the more inexplicable aspects of the story, namely the existence of two nations of men. Maybe there was more backstory in the books that I haven’t read, but wouldn’t you think that the nations of men would have gotten the message during the first war against Sauron that they had better stick together? Ah, but, if they had done so, they would not have been such a neat analogy for Britain and France. To me at least, Rohan is Britain and Gondor is France.

This analogy explains a great deal of what happens in the Lord of the Rings. Theoden retreated to Helm’s Deep behind Rohan’s historically impenetrable wall because that was a neat analogy to Britain’s pre-WWII confidence that no army could ever cross the English Channel. Saruman’s use of new technology – explosives – to breach the wall mirrors Germany’s use of new technology – aircraft – to jump the English Channel and nearly win the Battle of Britain, which, on this theory, mirrors Saruman’s near-victory at Helm’s Deep. Theoden’s earlier possession by Saruman and his minion Wormtongue reflects how deep and broad the influence of Nazi sympathizers, or at least apologists, was in Britain before WWII, going all the way to King Edward VIII, who eventually abdicated so they could have the movie The King’s Speech.

The similarities between pre-WWII France and Gondor are just as striking. France’s pre-WWII Third Republic government was something of a mess, just as Gondor did not have a king, but rather only a steward, who was not effective in preparing to fight Mordor. The garrison on the river, Osgiliath, bears similarities to the Maginot Line, which the French built to guard the German border, but which had little effect at the beginning of WWII. After the orcs took Osgiliath, there was little between them and Minas Tirith, just as there was little between the Nazis and Paris once the Nazis invaded the Low Countries. And Minas Tirith is an awfully grand city, like Paris. Finally, Rohan effectively had to invade Gondor to drive out the armies of Mordor, just as the British (and the Americans) had to invade France to drive the Nazis out.

Now, I know what you’re saying. You’re saying, “What about the One Ring and the hobbits? They are the stars, after all.” They are, along with Gollum, a metaphor for the use and abuse of the power that comes with winning wars. In the standard history, the allies that won WWI contributed, to some degree, to the conditions that led to WWII by imposing very onerous reparations terms on Germany because of its role in WWI. Before that, Germany and France traded Alsace-Lorraine back and forth, depending on who had won the last war.

To me at least, Tolkien’s theme that the One Ring must be destroyed is an argument that people must forego the traditional taking of war spoils in order to have lasting peace. In this reading, the hobbits are the good angels on people’s shoulders and Gollum is the bad angel. The One Ring is the power to impose yourself on everyone else and that power must be destroyed. Tolkien clearly thought of the hobbits as English, given that they appear to live in some fantasy of the English countryside, but they aren’t really affiliated with any of the major populations of Middle Earth, which apparently tend to forget that hobbits exist. Maybe you could see the hobbits as Irish – it’s awfully green in the Shire – but the Irish were not exactly enamored of the English historically. Same with the Scots, although William Wallace’s fight with the English – to quote Mel Gibson, “Freedom!” – is much further back than Michael Collins’s. Viewing the hobbits and Gollum as metaphors jibes with the facts that hobbits don’t fit into Middle Earth’s demographics very well and that Frodo and Sam are on their own for much of the story.

If you look at all of this together, you can take the Lord of the Rings book as a big argument for a Europe community of countries. Recall that, at the end, Gondor and Rohan do not unite as one nation, but rather appear likely to live together in peace and harmony, just like England and France (more or less). The Americans, excuse me, elves go back into the west across the Atlantic Ocean, taking Gandalf the wizard and Frodo the metaphor with them. There doesn’t appear to be any discussion of a Marshall Plan for Mordor, but that wouldn’t have been too much of a jump from the ending of the Return of the King.

Now I know there are a lot of loose ends to this theory. What about the dwarves? What were they? I’d have to say the Russians, given that the orcs apparently inflicted massive casualties on the dwarves in a battle in which the main protagonists did not participate – a la the Nazis’ invasion of Russia – and that Gimli joined up with the protagonists in the main battles. What about the wizards? What were they? It’s a fantasy series, you have to have magic. Moreover, without Gandalf, who would have been Obi-Wan/Dumbledore to Frodo’s Luke/Harry?

In light of all of this, you would have to think that the European debt crisis would have seriously concerned Tolkien, particularly after the Cold War with the dwarves. We don’t want anyone forging any new currency in the fires of Mount Doom.


KH


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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Words Today.

Today I happened to encounter several words that I am not accustomed to encountering on a run-of-the-mill Wednesday. These aren’t words I didn’t know, but rather words I don’t generally encounter in life.

Polymath – If ever you are asked to introduce me at a Rotary Club luncheon or a WGA awards banquet (be still my heart!) then I would like you to use this word to describe me. Thanks!

Presumed – Not a terribly esoteric word or anything, but somehow – I think – it has some implied lasciviousness. Maybe that’s just me who thinks that though. Problem being this word was said to me in the most un-lascivious of conversations today. It always makes we smile when people use words I think are dirty in a completely not dirty way.

Presumptive – This was used in the same conversation as ‘presumed’. The two words were used interchangeably. Normally I would rush to my dictionaries to figure out what exactly the difference is, however, I did not. For today I will pretend that the difference is that ‘presumed’ is kinda dirty and ‘presumptive’ is not.




(My dictionaries.)


Adjudicate – I’m absolutely CERTAIN that this word was not used properly when said to me today (in reference to verifying if property taxes were calculated correctly), but I’m too polite to correct people, and I don’t like to get my (secret) English degree all splashed all over everybody when they talk to me.

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Dear Christmas.

Dear Christmas
by james bezerra


Dear Christmas,

I would like less
fat in the index of my body mass,
so please make it not so cold
so that I can run more before I’m too old.
Also, I’d like in my life, some holiday cheer
before we end this crappy 2011 year.
So maybe under my tree
you will leave some grace, some joy, and some happiness for me.

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Luckily Diseased.

High winds have been tossing trees about down her in Southern California and lots of people have been without power for a week now. So rather than donating my electric socks or the duralog I keep in my trunk, I am showing my support by donating this poem, which they can print out and burn for warmth … except … I guess, they probably can’t print it without power … well, how about this: if your power is out, call or email me and I will personally print a copy of this poem and mail it to you and in two to four days when the USPS delivers it, THEN you can burn it for warmth! You’re welcome!



Luckily Diseased
by james bezerra

If, on this eve, so wintery,
an errant tree
has robbed you of electricity,
then it is probably a good time to be
one who suffers from an abnormally
high body temperature!

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Community Spirit.



Community Spirit
by
james bezerra

It is unacceptable to me
that they’re canceling Community.
Sure the Network says ‘hiatus’,
but I say ‘bullshit bogus’!

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Stilts!




Some workdays are very stressful and leave you simply wanting to go the hell home and take a nap. I have had a lot of those days lately. However today was not one of them. Yes, it was long and yes it was stressful, but I came out of it feeling okay. I think this is largely due to the fact that I got to put on my thinking cap and figure some stuff out. I will spare you the nasty details, but I’m taking on a lot of new job functions at work but not really being relieved of any of my old ones. The other day I explained this to the owner of the company and he flippantly told me to ‘get things automated’ meaning that I should find a way to boil my less complex functions down to logic programming. So you know what? I fucking did! I can never fully express how awesome it is to be awesome!

So I set my brain to some of that out-of-the-box thinking that everybody always talks about all of the time but never actually does. And I think that I have figured out how to reduce, not one, but TWO different soul-sucking, day-long processes into Access macros that will take like ten fucking minutes, total! With the (earth-shakingly badass) help of our in-house programmer I think that by the end of the month I will be able to turn 16 man houses of work into something that is more like thirty minutes. How fricken’ cool is that?! (You may applaud now.)

The point of this rant is that I was already feeling pretty good about myself when I hopped in the car and drove back to my apartment. Then, on the way, I heard a story on NPR about … do you wanta guess? … about competitive stilt jousting. Yeah. I said: Competitive. Stilt. Jousting.

This is why NPR is the best. This story is as hilarious as it is awesome. It was the cherry on top of my day.

READ (or listen) ALL ABOUT IT!

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Amusing.

Because I find it amusing, here is a picture of girls in skirts smoking.



(It is my blog and I can put whatever I want on it!)

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Everything.

So I know that you have spent the past month or so wandering in a daze and asking yourself, “Where did Jamie go? Why is he not blogging anymore? Is it something I did?”

Well, yes, it was.

Not really though.

November was National Novel Writer’s Month, better known as NaNoWriMo. The goal of participants is to write a 50,000 word novel in thirty days, beginning at 12.01 am on November 1st.

That may not sound like much to people who have a massive output on a regular basis (I’m talking to YOU Stephen King!) but for most of us it is a Herculean feat. It breaks out to 1,667 words every single day and – I should mention – it is REALLY HARD! Especially when you factor in distractions (enjoyable as they may be) like Thanksgiving, birthdays (why is EVERYBODY born in November) and work and such.

Well I chose to write (more or less) about banking, but the exciting parts of banking! Yeah, everyone I explained it to was like, “How are you a grown man and an English major who still doesn’t understand the meaning of the word exciting?”

Anywhoo, the novel did – as they tend to do – spin a little out of control, but, I think, in a good way. It became about more than just banking and more about how everything secretly interconnects to everything. In this way the medusa/hydra that is international banking became almost a metaphor for how all of today connects to yesterday and who we are is just the sum of who we have been and all that sort of mumbo jumbo. Along the way we touch on the stock exchange established by Somali pirates, the joy of trail running, the difference between the Spanish and Roman Inquisitions, Enigmatology, sexual awakening, rules for drinking, how to Google your way out of blackmail, and how Andrew Carnegie was the largest smuggler of mythical creatures in human history.

It is called: Everything is Everything.

Now that the thing is done I am going to spend some time editing it and polishing it and then I think I am going to experiment with e-publishing it. Why not, you know? What have I got to lose? Except my dignity, which is over rated anyway!

Oh, my final word count by the way, was not 50,000. It was 63,368. Because I rock.



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Chapter 13! BANKING!

Below is a very quick excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel. This is all of Chapter 13 in all of its poorly edited glory. I promise that the whole novel is not like this, but I needed to very quickly make banking sound kind of exciting and also explain – you know – why the economy completely tumbled ass backward into hell a couple years ago. And I wanted it to be kinda fun to read.

Also, most of these examples are true (or nearly true) based on my extensive internet research during October and November.

Things you need to know for the below to make any sense:
One of the characters in named “Bellanova”.
He works for a very large bank.
The bank is under investigation starting today.
He calls it, “Investigation Day”.

ENJOY!




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What a Bank Does.

13. What a Bank Does

While there are endless variations and permutations of banks and the services they provide, all banks essentially do two things: they take in money and then give it out again. There is no mystery to it at all.

Person A deposits her paycheck into her bank account and when she wants some of that money back, she removes it to do with as she pleases, to buy sewing notions or drug paraphernalia. To the average person there is no mystery at all. A bank is just a warehouse where her money is kept safe from bandits, muggers and water damage.

If Person A is particularly astute, she might one day ask, “How does the bank afford such a nice building if all it does is charge me five bucks a month for my account?” And then she might think to herself, “Well from other people’s interest, of course!” and go about her day, though she is only partially right.

What would likely never occur to Person A, is that banks are not service institutions. They do not exist to make modern life easier. They exist to make money.

When Person A deposits her paycheck, what follows is an intricate and complicated ballet of movements, none of which are ever seen by Person A.

The bank takes Person A’s money and puts it into a massive pool of money, along with money from Person B and Person C and Person D, etc., ad infinitum.

The bank keeps a small portion of ALL THAT MONEY available in case Person A needs to withdraw some to pay off a gambling debt or in case Person B wants to buy some dirty lingerie on her debit card. But aside from those sorts of things, most of ALL THAT MONEY would just be sitting there all the time gathering dust; except that banks are not warehouses for money.

So what a bank actually does is spend most of that money on other things (which have nothing to do with Person A or Person B or Person C, etc.) A loan is a good example of this. If the bank takes $100 of Person A’s money and gives it as a loan to Person X, then Person X is generally required to pay back that loan with interest. If the interest is $1 a year and Person X pays back the loan after one year, then Person X has paid back $101 to the bank. And remember, $100 of that technically belongs to Person A, but the bank has made $1 just for loaning out money that never belonged to it in the first place! And Person A never even knew about it!

But what happens if Person A wants all of her money back all at once even though the bank has loaned it all out?

Well that’s okay. The bank has kept enough money on hand (from Person B and Person C and Person D, etc.) to give Person A back all her money.

But what happens if ALL the people want ALL of their money back ALL at once?

Well that is called a “run on the bank” and it will cause a bank to “collapse”, because the bank does not actually have ALL THAT MONEY anymore.

However, every single bank that has ever existed throughout all of human history has functioned on the fundamental principle that there will never be a time when ALL the people want ALL their money back ALL at once. Every single bank in existence today (including the one where you keep your money) has made this assumption. Even though the assumption has been proved wrong over and over again.

Fundamentally, however, Person A and Person B and Person C all understand that banks loan money. And it is even likely that Person A has a home loan, Person B has a student loan, Person C has a car loan, etc. The implied contract that exists between banks and the people who use them is that the banks will behave in a thoughtful and responsible enough way that everyone involved is able to benefit from the relationship. Even though this implied contract has been violated over and over again.

These are all oversimplifications, of course.

No where on earth is there a bank that would make a $100 loan with an annual interest rate of 1%, because banks are not in the business of making only one dollar a year. Banks (and by extension, all investment firms, hedge funds, lending and financial institutions, etc.) are primarily in the business of making VERY LARGE sums of money.

How does a bank (or any other financial institution) do that?

Oh there are lots of ways! And new ones are being invented all the time!

Very large banks (like the one that Bellanova works for) like to deal with other very large organizations, like other large banks, countries, or oil companies.
If a large oil company wants to build a series of oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico – for instance – it will go to a very large bank and take out a very large loan for hundreds of million dollars. The bank is happy to do this because it will make a lot of money on the interest from a loan like that. Also, a big oil company is often willing to cut the bank in on an extra share of the oil profits. The oil company is willing to be so generous because lots of times the same people run both the oil companies and the banks. How convenient is that!

Other times a very large bank will work with a foreign country (usually a poor one that has oil or diamonds) and will make loans to the otherwise poor government in return for largely untraceable repayment in the form of raw goods like oil or diamonds. This is good for the bank because it generally gets to dictate the terms of the repayment (since the bank has the money and the country does not). So instead of a 1% annual interest, sometimes banks can charge a 100% interest rate! Because a lot of times the bank gets to decide how much the oil or diamonds are worth as a form or repayment, regardless of market price. How good for them! Why would any country want to pay a 100% interest rate on a loan when it could just sell its own oil and diamonds?

Well, sometimes the country can’t. Sometimes other organizations – like the United Nations – won’t let the country sell its goods on the open market. That is called an “embargo”. But why would the Unites Nations “embargo” something like oil or diamonds? Well usually because those countries are run by “dictatorships” that commit “human rights abuses” like “operating death squads”, engaging in “mass genocides” or “ethnic cleansings” or doing things like kidnapping children and forcing them to mine diamonds.

But wouldn’t a big bank get in big trouble for doing something like that?

Well sure!

That is why banks do not loan the money directly to those counties. The loans are broken down into numerous smaller amounts and moved through a purposefully complicates series of “front companies” and “shell corporations” and most of those are located in small countries that don’t have very many banking laws. Sometimes the bank will even pay a lot of money (in the form of cash or diamonds or oil or untraceable bearer-bonds) to members of those governments to ensure that they don’t make any new banking laws in their little countries.

And when one of those “embargoed dictatorships” pays the bank back – say with a million barrels of oil every week – the bank uses even more “front companies” and “shell corporations” to get that oil out to the market to sell at a much higher “price” than it credited back against the “embargoed dictatorship’s” loans. In this way, a very large bank (like the one Bellanova works for) is able to use ALL THAT MONEY that Person A and Person B and Person C and Person D etc. deposited to make massive “profit”. And it doesn’t even have to share any of that “profit” with Person A or Person B or Person C or Person D etc. How great is THAT for the bank!

But those are only a few examples of how smart banks are at making money.

Banks are so smart that they have figured out that they can make money even off the money that they have already loaned out! When a bank makes very large loans and investments, it depletes the money that it has to make new loans and investments (and to pay back Person A and Person B and Person C and Person D etc.). Since the bank has loaned out all that money, all it has now is a bunch of IOUs worth billions and trillions of dollars. So it may not have any money, but it has lots of potential money.

What the bank does then, is roll up all of those IOUs into an “investment opportunity” that other people and companies can buy. This process is called “commoditizing debt”, and the “investment opportunity” is called a “derivative” (names so because it is derived from something else). How exciting!

When a bank (or other financial institution) creates a “derivative” it is sure to mix a lot of unrelated types of IOUs into it (like risky home loans that it wants to get off of its books), that way it is almost impossible for a person or company to know, or even understand, what it is buying. But why would any person or company want to buy a mysterious “derivative”? Usually because the bank or other financial institution has a good track record of making lots of money! And because most of the people who run the “hedge funds” and “investment banks” (which buy most of the “derivatives”) are good friends with the people who run the banks. How convenient!

See, now the banks have managed to take money from Person A and Person B and Person C and Person D, etc. and loan it out in ways that will earn the bank lots of extra profit (which it does not have to share with Person A and Person B and Person C and Person D, etc.) and at the same time, it has managed to sell off all of its IOUs for real money. It has ended up making extra profit at least two different ways from the original money deposited by Person A and Person B and Person C and Person D, etc.! How smart is that!

But what happens if all of those risky home loans start to go bad because people can’t pay them? And why would a bank make a risky home loan in the first place?

Well once upon a time the United States had some old time-y laws called “Glass-Steagall” (named after Senator Carter Glass and Rep. Henry Steagall). Those laws required banks to hold onto the loans and therefore to hold onto the “exposure” that would be created if a loan went bad. So a bank only made a loan if it looked like someone could pay it back. But eventually all the people who used to run the banks went to work for the government as bank regulators. How convenient! And then the banks lobbied the Congress to repeal those old Glass-Steagall laws, which it did.

Then banks told their loan officers (who get paid bonuses on the number of loans they create not the number of loans that get paid back) that they could make as many loans as they wanted! Almost as soon as the new, risky or “exotic” loans got created and sold to people (mostly people who couldn’t have gotten one before) the banks rolled them into “derivatives” and sold them off to other people who didn’t really understand what they were buying. Everybody was making lots more money!

Except for the people who took out loans they didn’t really understand to buy houses they couldn’t really afford. They weren’t making any more money than before.

Sadly, when all those people started to “default” on their mortgages – millions at a time – all of those IOUs that were rolled up inside of all those “derivatives” went bad, meaning they lost their value (or rather, their potential value). Suddenly big companies and hedge funds and investment banks which thought they had trillions of dollars of potential money, didn’t anymore; they just had “loss” and no real money left.

Once that happened, none of the other banks wanted to loan them any money anymore.

Plus, since so many of the companies were interconnected and laterally invested in each other, no one could be sure anymore who actually had any real money left. So everyone stopped loaning money to everyone else. Then whole banks and investment firms began to “collapse”. And since they were so interconnected with other banks and investment firms, those other banks and investment firms began to “collapse”. And for a little while, it looked like the whole world economy was going to “collapse” because no one actually had enough actual money to cover all of the “loss”.

But remember all those people who used to run the banks but then went to work for the government as bank regulators? Well they convinced the United States to give the banks lots of money (called a “bail out”) so that all of the “collapsing” would stop. The government agreed to do that so that modern civilization would not “collapse”.

Well those banks took all that money and they did all the things that banks do to make money into more money and some of them even paid it back to the government so super fast that it made a lot of people wonder if they even needed the “bail out” in the first place, especially since now the banks were showing phenomenal earnings!

One of the banks (the one Bellanova works for) made SO MUCH MONEY that it became such a symbol (to the broke, unemployed, confused and angry public) of greed, dishonesty and malfeasance, that the President himself (on the advice of his political advisors) ordered the Federal Reserve Bank and the Justice Department to work together to figure out what happened.

And that is how Investigation Day came to be!


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We Might Fall.

You probably don’t remember Ryan Star because you never knew who he was in the first place (unless you watched that one reality show like five years ago about how INXS was trying to find a new lead singer) but I like him a lot and I think that – if I could sing, which I cannot – I would like to sound the way that he does.



(This song makes me cry, BTW. I have no idea why. It just SOUNDS sad, right? Also I cry like a little girl sometimes. At songs I mean. Because that is what men do. Whatever, no one asked you.)

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I Didn’t Think about You Today.

I didn’t think about you today
by james bezerra


I didn’t think about you today.
I’ve finally found a way
to get through a whole day
without thinking about the way
you went away.

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A Farewell from Herman Cain.

From the always delightful Borowitz Report.




A Farewell from Herman Cain

My Final Thoughts

Dear Friend,

And when I say “friend,” I mean it in the normal way, not “someone I’ve been sleeping with for 13 years.” Unless, of course, I have been sleeping with you for 13 years. In that case, I do mean it that way.

It is with a heavy heart that I have decided to end my inspirational quest for the White House. After much reassessing and reconsidering, I have decided to spend more time being screamed at by my wife. And by “more time,” I mean 24 hours a day, stopping only for bathroom breaks.

But before I go, let me share with you my final thoughts on my campaign. After months of crisscrossing this great land of ours and participating in over three hundred televised debates, I am being disqualified because of an extramarital affair. And that raises the following question: are you fucking kidding me?

I mean, let’s get real. I never heard of Libya. I didn’t know whether that CNN dude’s name was Wolf or Blitz. And my only training for running the #1 nation in the world was running its #8 pizza chain. Yet none of that, I repeat, none of that disqualified me. In fact, I was the front-fucking-runner, as long as I kept my 9-9-9 in my pants. (I have no idea what I meant by that -- I just like saying 9-9-9.)

But here’s the part that really kills me. You’re kicking me to the curb because I was messing around, and instead you’re going with… Newt Gingrich? I repeat: are you fucking kidding me? Oh, I know what you’re saying: you love Newt because he’s an “intellectual.” Well, Newt Gingrich is the intellectual of the Republican field the way Moe was the intellectual of the Stooges.

And that leads me to my final point: you disgust me, America. Right now if I had my way, I’d up and move to another country. I really, truly would. Only I don’t know where any of them are, and my wife won’t let me leave the house.

Goodbye forever,

Herman



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(Thanks to NYDana for sending this my way!)
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Your Mom is a Sex Addict.




I suppose it is possible that I am going to sound strange by saying this, but has anyone else out there been running across all sorts of books and articles and documentaries later telling you how addicted to sex we all are? No? Just me? Okay, well now I feel weird about myself.

Sadly none of these books or articles or documentaries are about how everybody is getting laid and having a good time. No, it would appear that we are in the grip of a sexual-addiction epidemic, or so said a recent NEWSWEEK cover story.

I do not doubt that there is a sexual-addiction epidemic, but I very much doubt it is anything new.

I did recently read that the prevalence of free and easily accessible internet porn (and let me tell you, there is A LOT of it out there! Or so I am told) has been dangerously and unreasonably altering what we expect out of our sex lives, or rather what we EXPECT out of our sex lives RIGHT NOW GODAMMIT! And that I can buy prĂȘt easily.

I don’t really have anything to add to this debate, except that if you’re getting some action regularly, I hope that you are being healthy and kind and sexy about it, in which case, WHY THE HELL ARE YOU EVEN READING THIS BLOG RIGHT NOW?

Anyway, here is the NEWSWEEK ARTICLE I thought it was interesting.


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Watch! Awesome!



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